tv Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter Discuss Life After the White House CSPAN August 9, 2016 8:00pm-8:52pm EDT
watch them anytime at www.c-span.org. today voters have been heading to the polls in primary races in wisconsin. tonight we will have live remarks from speaker paul ryan who has been challenged by a business executive. the polls in the badger state close in about an hour, once we hear from them, we will hear from you by taking our phone calls and getting a reaction. right now, it is cut in with former president bill clinton and jimmy carter, talking about public service and global politics. they also looked at ways to encourage more young people to vote, hosted by the global initiative. this is 50 minutes. mr. clinton: now i would like to invite one of america's all-time great civic servants to join me on the platform, president jimmy
carter. [applause] mr. clinton: so, do you feel as young as you look? [laughter] mr. carter: i feel fine. i feel fine. mr. clinton: that is great. we were talking backstage at i think it might be interesting -- and we have some people who have been here for the first time in some that have been here several times. they all admire the service you have done. i found -- i thought it would be good to kick this off if you can take us back a few years. i pledged allegiance to jimmy carter in 1975.
we have known each other a long time. blessed of us have been to live for longer out of office then we were in office. [laughter] mr. clinton: and you realize, you have every day of your life to count the good experience. i think it would be good for you people how telling you decided to organize your life and did what you did. mr. carter: thank you. first of all, he did not take me long to live longer in office and i was out of office. [laughter] i was good at getting elected but not reelected. [laughter] mr. carter: i have a lot i wanted to do when i left office,
and so we discussed it best decided to start a center. to look around the world and see what was not being done and what if uniteddone, but states or harvard or the united nations was doing something, we did not get involved in it. we have health programs, monitoring elections. we try to promote peace and things like that. one time i came back from africa and the president of the university where i have been president wanted to do something at home. they were looking at poverty in atlanta. we did an analysis of atlanta and we some 500,000 people that lived in southern atlantic, many african-americans who were living in destitution and could not get a job and so forth.
i was amazed at how many people we help. we divided them into different groups of 25,000 each. we found when we went into those neighborhoods which i had not been in before, that the police and the welfare workers and health workers did not live there. they lived in a nicer part of town and just commuted. we decided to organize the left of project. it was one of the most interesting things we did because i wanted to bring together higher education and business as well as helping people who did not know how to get out. we did that and for every 25,000 people we had a major corporation come to adopt them. american airlines and a major university doing the same thing. it turned out to be a very good program that we have for five years.
we treated those people like they should have been treated to begin with. years,t the end of five 16 of them graduated and met the criteria and we help them for several more years. it was a very interesting to see this very interesting thing to see delta airlines helping people. delta airlines relies when they put out a call for flight attendants and none of those people have read the newspaper, so they learn how to advertise and most of the people they got welfare checks they had to pay $15 to cash the checks because they cannot have a chance to have a bank account so we got the banks to let them have bank accounts. this ended up being a very good thing. statesthis in the united as well as overseas. there is a very sharp division between rich and or and we decided to cross the boundary
between the rich and the poor and that is one of the things that the carter center did. i had a number of things to do and we still have a lot of things we need to fill. me ask you: let , had youlain to them keep your project going over a period of several years? mr. carter: it could be anything. we started working on this 30 years ago. countries, in 41 23,600 villages, 3.5 million cases and we have been working on those people. there is no medicine for it. we had to teach them to change their life so they will not have a growing in their bodies.
we got it down to 22 cases from 2.5 million and this year we have no cases. [applause] mr. carter: the main thing is, let people do for themselves what they can do and what they have always been able to do. a lot of these folks, particularly in africa have never known what it means to have success. they do not know what it means to trust someone from outside that wants to help them. we have found one of the most revealing things i have found since i left the white house, these people that have never had a decent house to live in and have had no success in life are just as smart as we are just as ambitious as we are. their family values are just as good as ours and they work just as hard as we do if they are given a chance to work well. that is one of the great things i have learned. [applause]
you mentioned all of these numbers. people make fun of me when i talk about numbers and i have always been amazed that politics is the only profession where people are surprised that you know anything. [laughter] mr. clinton: i want you to give us all of those numbers and statistics because they often ridiculed me when i do it. problem thatout a you and i were talking about backstage. economy isn different than it was when i served and you served, the challenges are somewhat different. we talked earlier about this huge problem of prescription drugs and heroin abuse that is sweeping across the country. a lot of it is rooted in the fact that somebody people are stuck economically.
asyou were approaching this opposed to being in a political office, do you have any ideas you can do about that and a service to take this huge burden off of young people in this country? it is such an enormous frustration. some of them will never be able to go on with their lives because they will never get the burden off of their shoulders. mr. carter: i think a lot of the problem with the debt is because the colleges and universities have raised the tuition a lot in 's hebrides the contributions so this means students have to take a son to get through college and accumulating debt. when i left office, we had a program going on with the
tuition a good state support so other qualified person could cover cost of college. i hope we see that come back again. i know there has been discussion of a university in college education so i think it needs to come back again. as far as the hopelessness is concerned, i believe we need to change our policy here. when i was in office, i made a public statement in 1979 in may and call for the decriminalization of marijuana, not letting it be legal but to decriminalize it, to stop putting people in prison because they possess or use drugs. and so we concentrated than on treatment of people that had drug addiction. that changed and i went out of office, as you probably know and it has been changed ever sense. now there is an increasing number of people that want to change society. both democrats and
republicans now see it as a heavy effort in our prisons. when i was governor, in ancient times, we had a competition with other governors in the south including arkansas, in fact, to of people innumber prison. in 1976 when i became president, one out of a thousand -- one out of 1000 americans were in prison and no 7.5 times as many people are in prison as they were back then and a lot of it is because of the incarceration of people taking drugs. then, i think you have to get to the person that is an addicted person to be involved in his or her own correction and own salvation. themnk if you just target to put them in prison and punish them because they smoked marijuana, i think that is a
counterproductive thing. i think in every case, you have to be involved in your own correcting of the problem or solution of the problem. mr. clinton: you know, we were talking about this backstage. i cannot remember a time in recent history when there has been so much agreement between the republicans and democrats, that the drug problem ought to be treated like a medical problem and there are also a lot spendingagreement for someone in the penitentiary not as good as preparing someone to live. i do think and where i am going we need to have those
kinds of projects we just announced for homeless people, people looking for improvements into the workforce. we cannot have people out of prison discriminated against when applying for jobs. and we have to train them for jobs. i cannot -- the government can do what it ought to do to change the laws but i think it is unrealistic given all of the present problems that the government has to think we will adequately prepare them. in new york there is a very active prison program. that proves what he said.
intelligence is equally distributed. if you are leaving the white house tomorrow and you had to design a service, how would you think about it? mr. carter: you are still talking about prisons? mr. clinton: anything. think wer: you know, i need some innovation that would involve not only the people that have been caught by the police and accused of a crime but also the general public, the successful leaders and businesses and education. one of the things i did when i was governor, we had a program of getting volunteer probation officers. was a leader in the lions club. we call the members of the lions club to volunteer to be probation officers.
we would bring the volunteers to atlanta and the prison director and i would give them instructions and they would have to agree before they came up here that each member of the lions club would take one er and they had to visit that prospect and their families. they had to promise me as governor that they would guarantee that that person when they got out of prison but have a job, and so we gave them rudimentary instructions and they became voluntary probation officers. it not only let us keep people from going back into prison because they had a job when they came out, but it also but the business committee learn how more effective it was to get people out of prison and joined the job market than stay in prison. that is an innovative think we might try again. [applause]
mr. clinton: that is a really good idea because we do not have enough probation officers to handle now much less the people that ought to be let out. mr. carter: the same way then, we did not have enough probation officers. they were come obviously with the probation officers. have onears would only probationer to be responsible for. -- these someone tears would only have one probationer to be responsible for and make sure they would not go back in. that is the kind of thing we need to try more of and i think the governor's or the president themselves or herself should encourage people to do it. [applause] mr. clinton: that is all we need
. i think this is good. everyone of you, wherever you are from, i bet you anything wherever you are from, that you anything that be probation system in your state is inadequate to properly serve the number of probationers that exist today, much less the for all ofould have his own people imprisoned. that is a good idea. we did not rehearse this. it just came to him. that was really good. if you were not doing something with come of justice and you were walking out of the white house, what else would you do? answering: you got me all of the questions. i do not mind. [laughter] mr. clinton: they know what i think about everything. i am boring. mr. carter: let me take another
problem. that is the decreasing number of people that vote in america. as you know, there is a lot of efforts i would say among republicans and democratic legislatures. they ought to minimize any change in the electoral system, and i think most of it is on the opposite party. i see the expression in your face. [laughter] mr. carter: this is something republicans are doing. how do you get young people registered to vote? if i have my preference, i would let everyone be automatically registered when they are 18 years old. [applause] mr. clinton: yes. mr. carter: but, another idea that i tried in a work really well in georgia was we passed a
law deputizing every high school principal to be a voting registrar. calleday as governor, i the high schools to have a contest about who could register the most upcoming 18-year-olds to be registered as voters. that was a way to do it. when i got to the white house and tried a similar proposal, both democrats and republicans opposed it because they did not want to change the constituency that have put them into congress. wanted to republicans keep african-americans and old people and others from voting. i think of sides were reluctant to change the constituency that had put them in office. that is something that the president can speak to the people about it maybe get something like that done. i think the main thing is to let
them have last-minute registration and a registration by mail or registering everybody when they are 18 and high school principals to be registrars. these ideas can be attractive. mr. clinton: you know, we have, and i agree with that and we should have automatic enrollment and a lot of other things. states would adopt systems like california withdrawing legislative boundaries. it is a heavy democratic state so they are more likely to put more seats of thent looks better because the candidates and more and more districts have to appeal across the board. we have a different problem i was going to ask you about but i
think it is contributing to a lot of this polarization in america. that is that two different america's show up in presidential elections and midterm elections, much normal -- much more than 40 years ago. if you remember, you were a pretty good mentor after he became president, but turnout was down in uniformly down. now, it is breathtaking the difference. the political makeup between people voting in the presidential elections in midterm elections which makes the democrats suspect when we want to expand voting and republican suspect when they went to make it harder to vote because they want the presidential election to look like the midterm election. we need to come up with some
system that can get the midterm vote up. the american profile was more or less united, both parties would have to commit. it will be difficult in the long run for the democrats. they would both have to compete for every demographic. i think that is important. you have any bright idea? i do not. . fell on my face the last time i worked very hard in 2014 to gapto bridge the turnout the two presidential elections and i failed. i think there has got to be a way we can do it. mr. carter: there is. i think there have been some mighty changes that have taken place since both you and i have run for president.
the stupid decision by the supreme court of citizens united. [applause] is carter: the other one increasing gerrymandering of congressional districts. i think in enlightened supreme court could reverse both of those things. one of the things that would be very easy for even the conservatives to do would be every state had to have a blue-ribbon commission to outline congressional districts. that would go a long way to reducing the polarization because now in georgia, for instance, the republican legislature and republican governors, we have a division in georgia because they want to put all of the white people in one district and get all of the african-americans in another district. the only possibility for a congressman to get elected is to live in an african-american district.
the rest of the districts vote republican. stateind of division in a would go a long way. registration, if we can get those three things done, there may be a democratic system as good as when you and i were president. [applause] mr. clinton: i think it is really important. anis not healthy to be elected representative of the people and realize you could never be defeated again unless somebody gets to the right of you if you are a republican on the left of you if you are a democrat. it keeps people from working together and i do not think it is healthy. mr. carter: about is the way it is in this country. california has corrected that to some degree. mr. clinton: it is really interesting watching, i have seen california change their
system, have seen the change in the quality of participation. it is a really heavy democratic but the talk more about the practicalities of progressive reforms there. they feel safe to talk about what may not be as easy as it sounds. that is the thing. you do not want to put into a system where people cannot have an honest debate what is on their mind and heart. another thing that we can do that would improve the theation is to go back to -- as youal elections know, and i ran against general
-- geralderald ford ford and we raised zero money. i think you probably did the same thing, did you not? we need to go back to that. i would personally like to see .ublic finance involved i think that would be a good move as well. mr. clinton: it would require a change in the supreme court decision because you could say, you cannot have this public money unless you follow the strings but that was the deal before, so much money could be raise. mr. carter: change the supreme court. [applause] mr. clinton: that is important. atthink when looking interpretations of the constitution, let me ask you something else.
i think this is important. help us all to understand because you continued to travel the world with all of the things going on. thele are worried about extremely divisive things said in america. the truth is, they are all over the world. they feel the combined impact of stagnant economics and kind of identity threat and a diversity crisis. you have the biggest refugee crisis in europe since world war ii. have a lot of tension asiaen china and southeast because of the economics and nationalism there. you have a lot of candidates rather who are saying divisive things including the
new president of the philippines that suggested the navy general be threatened. what is your take on this? what if anything can be done about it? do not make it about america, just think about the rest of the world. it is just going on everywhere. these kinds of things are happening everywhere at the same time. it is not just america. on what shouldke be done globally? mr. carter: 2009 i made two speeches, one was in taiwan and they asked me to speak on my greatest concern about the next century.
concern isreatest the increasing division between rich people and poor people. not only between rich people and poor people in the country like china or the united states but also between rich countries and poor countries. mostnk that has become the serious problem in the world now. a lot of people think that the world is more in conflict now, war's going on. compared tow-level most of the time. that division between rich and poor is becoming greater and i think that causes a lot of polarization and it causes people like in our country to take the radical stance that appeals to the people that are left out. one thing that needs to be done is to let the people
feel like they are being treated fairly by their own government. i think a lot of folks in the united states feel they are being treated unfairly by the government and i believe that my children can have a better life than i had. we have lost that sense of optimism that each generation is going to be better off. i think those two things have caused the radical nature of political campaigns which you just asked me about in other countries and i think as well in this country. mr. clinton: if you look, by and ent has had moredent economic inequality and upward mobility. there are these kinds of tensions.
the only places where you see it, but i have seen it, a slight exception in countries in europe particular with the refugee crisis. austria house almost no inequality and a fair amount of upward mobility but they still have an identity crisis. that all the diversity we have in our country offhe end we are better dealing with it? mr. carter: i hope so. i think there is going to be a reassessment in america by individual citizens and collectively after this election
experience we are involved with now. i think a lot of people feel not only alienated but disgusted with some of the campaign rhetoric and the violation of human rights is a proposal by a major candidate. that is something that i think is going to be corrected in the united states. what we need to do, in my opinion, is to look back at the only time in history where we have ever had a commitment to the basic moral and ethical principles that shape our great religions. that was at the end of the second world war. we formed united nations to prevent war. we wanted to treat everybody fairly. we have pretty well abandon both of those things as well.
united nations, the security council does not prevent wars and even our own country is violating a lot of the -- universality's of human right paragraphs. i think these can be changed. idealism ofl fairness, amnesty, friendship, i think we will have a reaction to make our country even better. [applause] what about, let's foundationthe carter -- we are nonstate actors, not government. we do things with government. we have worked very closely with
government, but isis is the one state actor. think the problems that i being presented by all of the rises, conflict related to one state actors is how to apply norms to them and dealing with them when if every country in the world follow the same norms and they do not, more people made. ydi die. have somenk we could sort of international convention ? take the gates foundation that has done a heck of a lot of good.
have you ever given any thought to that? we are supposed to have international standards on monitoring elections and we have had a lot of progress in that respect. some countries now are outlined nongovernmental organizations. 15 or 20een welcomed years ago into a lot of countries and now we find that we are no longer welcome in this makery because we decisions that the increasingly oppressive governments do not like. ngos can work together in harmony and see where our common goals and commitments are and that would be very helpful. i do not think you and i have ever set them together to see how the cgi and the carter center might cooperate and benefit each other's gaps
and cooperate where he could but i think if we can do that and get other organizations, it could be good for us to have a meeting someone. [applause] mr. clinton: i agree with that. i know what you are saying about the government. let me ask you one other thing. i do not want this to be too political. mr. carter: you do not want to be, what? mr. clinton: too political. [laughter] mr. clinton: one of the things that bothers me is all of these surveys which show that there's really not a lot of baselevel knowledge that you normally take for granted among the electorate of many countries. they do not know if they are getting a fair deal or not. know howot necessarily
the government system works or what the options are. it was a big deal, you could gradeit out of the third unless you had a really good civics teacher. do you think we should do more of that? mr. carter: have more restraint? mr. clinton: basic civic education about how the system works, how does the state government work, the federal government work, how the law is made, one midterm elections are important. how does it relate to the rest of the government? i get the feeling that most kids get out of high school and never get really serious education in that. mr. carter: that is true.
that is also true of universities. i think that is true. i would agree with you that the average citizen ought to have a base. there is an interesting and exciting way to learn about their own government process between executive, legislative and judicial branches of government but the principles are involved. there is only one country in the world that can take the leadership in something like this and that is our country. you know, i think we ought to be a superpower in every way, not just the strongest military in the most economic influence and cultural influence, but i think the number one peace.on earth for [applause] beenarter: i think we have
in conflict with other countries 30 times since the second world war. other countries that are almost as powerful as ours very carefully avoid war. int in 1979, china had been -- not been a conflict with anybody. i think united states ought to be that way. and someone is a potential conflict in the country they are to say, why don't we go to washington because the united states is for peace always. i think we have to be number one in human rights and number one in environmental protections. [applause] mr. carter: you know, i say number one in generosity with people that need help around the world. we need to be number one in admirable things so other people will emulate and admire the united states as a true
superpower in every way, not just because we are the strongest. [applause] mr. clinton: i agree with that. we actually have this, most people think the one thing our citizens do not know about, most tople think that we give 10% 15% of the federal budget away in foreign aid. these polls have not changed in 30 years and i have watched them. in fact, we give a very small percentage-- mr. carter: like one fourth of 1%. mr. clinton: anything you could broadly construe. we saw an enormous change in that with the middle east.
we justified in for a long time in the cold war because we were essentially providing defense over europe and never giving 100% of their gdp back to the world in developing world in the form of assistance. i think that one of the things that would do a lot of good is getting continuous updates with the comparative performance our country and others have in areas with positive things. our development programs can do a lot of good but they are still nowhere near as generous percentagewise as norway for example. the british, i have to defend. i have been very close with the prime minister's. i have to give prime minister
cameron credit. one thing he refused to do even after the financial crash was to decrease the percentage of their gdp that was going to develop an systems and they deserve -- developing systems and they deserve a lot of credit for that. let me ask you something, since this, howking about much do you think people feel the government does not treat them fairly with their incomes in the wiki movement of the union movement and how much do you think is the inevitable result about moving away from manufacturing toward a more service-based economy? mr. carter: i think the reason most americans feel they are not treated fairly by the government is because they are not being treated fairly by the government. [applause]
mr. carter: because, you know, i will say since i left the white administration except one, yours, has reduced taxes on the rich as people and -- richest people in the taken care of the middle class and improve people and i think that the brakes the come along are caused by the changes in congress because the lobbyist who are putting constant pressure on congress members to run for reelection, and i think that change in the tax structure and brakes going overseas to get your income, those kinds of things are having a very permeating adverse effect on the country and it affects the average person who feel they are not getting a fair share and i think that is accurate.
we need to change that and i hope in the next administration we see that change. mr. clinton: to be fair, i have to defend president obama. main bump on taxes was the income tax rate raised. but then, there was also a health care tax in he did this last year with our family. i think the actual rate now is higher than it was when i left office because of health care. is the absencem of the buffet rule.
people that come from backgrounds with relatively low income do not have high income taxes. admirable: that is that he has done that. mr. clinton: there is more investors, it is harder to give money away. opportunityn out of to make it, they will have given it all away. anyway, i do think that tax fairness is important but the real thing is all of these tax shelters and giveaways. that is why we need some extensive rules that say, ok, if you make x amount you have to pay this.
on the way out, because we are about to run out of time, what would you say to the young howle in the audience about they should decide what service has meant to you? i do not think there is any question that the service life you have lived since you left the white house, you look as good as you do, you feel as good as you do, you are in the shape you are in -- [applause] mr. clinton: i do not think , happys any question you are, what do you know now that you did not know when you are 20 that you could say to these young people here? mr. carter: well, i have articles you one thing that i have learned that is poor people
underestimated. it is very hard to say. i think i have learned that more with dealing with habitat for humanity than anything else and the carter center sometimes. we just deal with people that have never had a decent home, ere side by side, building their own house, paying for their house but not paying interest in and they pay for the loan. that is a way to let people, by their own bootstraps without feeling obligated to anyone else. i think the main thing is to have a feeling that all of our christian and i say other religions because everybody is and wen the eyes of god do not look down on anybody else, but i think in our country we still have an element of renewed understanding that we have not solved the race issue yet. when i was in office and when you were in office, we had a feeling of relief to finally
resolving the race issue because of martin luther king junior and people like that, but now that we have got to do see it again that are african-american neighbors and others as well are treated unfairly, do not get as good of an education, jobs, job right, put into jail and they are discriminated against and they are beginning to realize that as well. i think if we listen to what is going on and try to take steps to correct the problems that we face, then we will be much better off as a nation. it takes a lot of political courage to admit that we have made some mistakes and now let's correct them. america has already -- always have the right in the ability, maybe it takes too long to say, ok, we have made our mistake and was corrected. mr. clinton: let's give him a hand, jimmy carter. thank you.
[applause] mr. clinton: i had no idea he was going to say that at the i read several months ago somebody was making fun of me in one of these internet theyles because acknowledge all of the things i acknowledged error on. these are five things he said he made a mistake on. i have made millions of decisions that were not too bad. i did not think of it as a sign of weakness.
erhink of it as a sign of ror not to constantly reassess what you are doing. i do not want to talk about this because we still learning so much about it, but i was really impressed to see the director of the fbi say that the one thing i did was immediately review what we did to see if we made a perpetrated they these under our radar screen if you months ago. he said, i obviously do not believe we know what we did yet but we have to keep looking. we honore a mistake, the future of the people that will need our help to be honest about it, forthright about it and figure out what we are doing. i am so glad to hear president carter say this. if everyone walks around on eggshells we are not perfect. i got used to it years ago.
[laughter] have to.on: we all if you want to be judged on your government to work, if you want to be judged in a way that inspires other people's confidence and continues to get other people support in the government cannot do anything if we do not do that, we have to be willing to constantly assess what we are doing and not to be afraid of making a mistake and acknowledging and and changing course. that is the one thing i would say i have found sort of rewarding in the years since i left office and have been working. i used to have a lot of sympathy with people and politics that were afraid to make mistakes and get beat up on. if you are not running for anything, you should try to set a good example bse